BALTIMORE — A .500 road trip may not look great, but compared to some of the road trips the Baltimore Orioles played earlier this season, we’ll take it. After dropping two of three to the Rays, Baltimore bounced back and picked up a series win over the Rangers.

The O’s leave Arlington with a 5-1 season series win against Texas, and look to carry that momentum into Camden Yards against the Kansas City Royals.

Over the past half decade, some would call the Royals a thorn in the Orioles’ side. Remembers when Kansas City swept Baltimore in the 2014 ALCS? The Royals also swept the O’s in mid-May. Baltimore entered that series with a 22-11 record and sole possession of first place in the American League East.

Things change quickly. Also prior to that mid-May showdown, the Royals sat in the AL Central cellar with a 13-21 record. They’re now seven games over .500, winning 10 of their last 11. An afterthought two months ago, Kansas City is very much alive.

Standings Update: The Orioles (50-54) come into the week 6.5 games behind the Yankees (56-47), the current AL East kings. Baltimore is 5.5 games back in the Wild Card Race. The Royals (55-48) sit just two games behind the first-place Cleveland Indians (57-46) in the AL Central. If the season ended yesterday, Kansas City would travel to Fenway Park to play the Wild Card game against Boston (57-49).

Trade Deadline Ends TODAY: As the Baltimore Orioles return to Camden Yards on Monday, the attention turns to the Front Office. With the Major League Baseball trade deadline ending at 4:00 pm EST, Orioles General Manager Dan Duquette’s window to make changes closes by the minute.

According to Fangraphs, the Orioles currently hold a 3.1% chance of making the playoffs. Despite this, Duquette made a buyer move on Saturday night. He acquired starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson from the Phillies for Hyun-Soo Kim and double-A pitcher Garrett Cleavinger. Philadelphia also received an international amateur signing bonus, while Baltimore captured cash considerations.

Hellickson currently sports a 4.76 ERA, but that ranks second in the O’s rotation. With Hellickson’s arrival, Zach Britton, Brad Brach, Wellington Castillo, and Seth Smith could be moved later today. Just last week, Duquette said he would add an arm to the rotation, and he did that. Trading two all-star relievers and a starting catcher would raise eyebrows. Many baseball experts feel that Duquette needs to do it. A good chunk of Baltimore fans do too.

Game Times and Pitching Matchups:

Game 1Monday, July 31, 7:05 pm – Danny Duffy (7-6, 3.56 ERA) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (4-7, 6.93 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2Tuesday, August 1, 7:05 pm – Ian Kennedy (4-6, 4.43 ERA) vs. Dylan Bundy (9-8, 4.53 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3Wednesday, August 2, 7:05 pm – Jason Vargas (13-4, 3.00 ERA) vs. TBD – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on the Royals:

  • Kansas City hit .327 against the O’s in May, scoring 16 runs on 33 hits, eight doubles, and five home runs.

Notes on the Orioles: 

  • With Baltimore yet to name a starter for Wednesday, Hellickson could make his Orioles debut then. Adding Hellickson to the rotation could mean trouble for guys like Jimenez, Wade Miley, and even Chris Tillman.
  • Over the weekend in Arlington, Jonathan Schoop finished with four RBI on two home runs and a two-RBI single. Castillo drove in four runs in Sunday’s game on a three-run homer and an RBI single.
  • Kevin Gausman’s 8.2 inning, no-run gem was the longest an Orioles starter has gone in a game this season. Jimenez is the last Orioles starter to toss a complete game (Sept. 5, 2016).

Up Next: The Orioles remain home for four games against the Detroit Tigers. Following the weekend, the O’s embark on their annual west coast trip. The journey out west features 10 games; three in Anaheim, four in Oakland, and three in Seattle.

Image Credit: Camden Chat